ACKNOWLEDGING UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT FOR HBCUS
By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President
and CEO, NNPA)
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. routinely would remind
those of us who worked for the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC) during the Civil
Rights Movement of the 1960s about
the vital importance of Historically
Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs). As we celebrated Black
History Month 2017, Dr. King’s
admonition concerning the
enduring need for HBCUs should be
reaffirmed every month.
Dr. King once emphasized,
“The function of education is to
teach one to think intensively and
to think critically. Intelligence plus
character—that is the goal of true
education.” Dr. King was a graduate
scholar of one of the leading HBCUs,
Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia.
He was not only an intellectual genius
and spiritual leader, but also had an
enormous moral character that kept SCLC’s leadership on
the front-line of civil rights social transformation.
There should be no rational debate about the
contemporary necessity to support the sustainability of the
nation’s HBCUs. Yet, we do live in times where too many
people have been misled to lean on the unfortunate and
unstable walls of irrationality, divisiveness and the absence
As we continue to posit and emphasize, there is a
glaring need to demand intellectual honesty in all matters
pertaining to the pursuit of freedom, justice, equality
and empowerment for Black America and all others who
struggle to improve the quality of life for all humanity.
When it comes to the crucial funding of HBCUs, this is a
matter that transcends the partisan divide between the left
and the right.
Truth is nonpartisan. Truth is therapeutic. Substantial
efforts to increase higher education opportunities for
Black Americans and others should not get mired down in
contradictory and self-defeating political discourse.
March 16 will mark the 190th anniversary of the
Black Press in America since the first publication of
“Freedom’s Journal” on March 16, 1827 in New York City.
Honesty, integrity, and publishing the truth without fear of
consequence have been the hallmarks of the Black Press in
the United States for nearly two centuries.
We have neither reluctance nor hesitation, therefore,
to acknowledge the strategic and unprecedented support
that the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries
have given to Historically Black Colleges and Universities
via the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Thurgood
Marshall College Fund (TMCF).
Recently, one of the single largest financial
contributions to TMCF, $25.6 million,
was made by the Charles Koch
Foundation and Koch Industries. These
funds are dedicated to establish and
develop TMCF’s Center for Advancing
“This is a momentous partnership,”
stated Dr. Johnny C. Taylor, Thurgood
Marshall College Fund’s president and
chief executive officer. “Historically Black
Colleges and Universities are uniquely
positioned to lead the field in this type of
research. There are thousands of fragile
communities across the United States
where there are tremendous barriers to
opportunity. It’s important to recognize
that lasting change to strengthen these
communities must begin at the local
level. So, we are proud to come together
with the Charles Koch Foundation and
Koch Industries to help members of
these communities identify and study the
challenges most significant to them.”
The Center for Advancing
Opportunity will focus on education,
criminal justice, entrepreneurship and
other issues that affect the quality of life in African
American communities. The center also will create
research think tanks on HBCU campuses, provide
academic scholarships, establish graduate fellowships and
render grants to selected HBCU faculty members.
As a proud graduate of the flagship HBCU Howard
University, I have witnessed firsthand the advantages
and enormous value of primary research accomplished
by Howard and other HBCU centers of research power,
ingenuity and innovation. The proposed TMCF Center for
Advancing Opportunity is a welcomed development that
the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)
salutes and applauds forthrightly.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and
CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association
(NNPA) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.